The age of e-mail, instant messaging and internet telephony has ended the 150-year-old era of the American telegram.
Last week, Western Union – which for a century and a half brought news of joy, sorrow and success in distinctive, hand-delivered, yellow envelopes – quietly ceased its service.
It was a difficult decision for a firm that was providing coast-to-coast transmissions as far back as the American Civil War – and which at one time had a fleet of 14,000 couriers operating on bicycle and on foot.
But the writing has been on the wall for the telegram for decades.
“The decision was a hard decision because we’re fully aware of our heritage,” said Victor Chayet, a spokesman for the company, whose main business is thriving.
“But it’s the final transition from a communications company to a financial services company.”
In the UK, the Queen once sent them to subjects celebrating their 100th birthdays. Now, even she sends a card.